Rescuers in Taiwan pulled more people alive from a collapsed apartment tower yesterday, a day after a strong earthquake shook the island, and kept searching for about 120 people still believed trapped in the ruins of the building.
Those found alive include a 20-year-old identified by Taiwan media as Huang Kuang-wei and another man in his 20s surnamed Kuo, who was able to walk out from the rubble, supported by rescuers. Both were sent to hospital.
Firemen, police, soldiers and volunteers combed through the ruins, some using their hands, watched anxiously by dozens of the victims’ family members who wore thick jackets, woollen hats and scarves on a chilly morning.
“She’s not answering my phonecalls. I am trying to hold my emotions and stay strong. I’ll do that until I find her,” said a woman surnamed Chang, 42, waiting to hear from her 24-year-old daughter who lived on the fifth floor of the complex.
“Nothing matters but to get her out. The lady living across the hallway was rescued yesterday. I know they will find her, but I have planned for the worst. It’s been more than 20 hours.”
At least 23 people are known to have died in the quake, which struck at about 4am on Saturday, at the beginning of a Lunar New Year holiday, including 16 found in the collapsed Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building in the southern city of Tainan.
Around 120 people are still beneath the rubble of the commercial-residential block, with most of them trapped deep in the wreckage, the government said.
Bodies continue to be found, including those of two sisters, aged 18 and 23, Taiwanese media reported.
The building’s lower floors pancaked on top of each other in the 6.4 magnitude quake and then the whole structure toppled, raising immediate questions about the quality of materials and workmanship used in its construction in the 1990s.
Speaking earlier in the day, Tainan Mayor William Lai told reporters efforts were focusing on 29 people who are closest to the rescuers, with lighter equipment like drills being used.
“The other 103 are believed to be at the lower floors of the building, and we can’t find an accessible route to those areas at the moment.”
The extent of damage to the Golden Dragon Building has raised questions. n
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